The road to Kids Day

Lesly Garcia (left) and Christiana Sasso (right), on the corner of Herndon and Blackstone attempting to sell special edition Fresno Bee newspapers for Kids Day on March 7, 2017 (Khone Saysamongdy/The Collegian).

It was a race to the top spot Tuesday for Fresno State organizations who wanted to give back to the community for Valley Children’s annual Kids Day fundraiser.

In 2016, Fresno State Army ROTC placed first by raising $7,603, Pi Kappa Alpha came in second place and raised $2,890.60 and Sigma Phi Epsilon raised $2,397.38, placing third.

For 30 years, Kids Day has been a Valley tradition put on by Valley Children’s Hospital, the Fresno Bee and ABC 30. Millions of dollars have been raised throughout the years to cover costs that cannot be paid privately to treat a child with a life-threatening condition.

On average, 6,000 volunteers from more than 20 communities come out in the early hours of the morning and throughout the day on street corners to sell special editions of the Fresno Bee.

Last year’s top three university fundraisers found themselves competing this year for the best street corners, most newspaper sales and most donations.

Hot coffee, blankets, lawn chairs and big sweaters were a major part Kids Day’s success. The top three fundraisers set their sights on their corners months in advance and remained tight-lipped on their locations until they staked out their territory, as early as 8 p.m. the night before.

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Battalion civil operations leader Clare Wardle, exercise science major and lead coordinator, said ROTC started planning six weeks before the day of the event.

“[We were] deciding which corner we wanted, how we would try to promote donating money for the cause, making signs, creating shifts to stake the grounds over night [and] getting our program excited for the event,” Wardle said.

ROTC’s choice for its corner was at Herndon and Blackstone avenues and the team arrived there at 8 p.m. Monday night. Its goal was to raise more than $8,000 this year.

By 10 a.m., Cadet Carlos Guzman said they reported an approximate donation amount of $3,500.

Wardle said the real fun begins once they start selling the papers, because they do pushups to promote them. It’s normally $1 per newspaper – the pushups are incentives to rack up more dollars.

Guzman said, among the entire battalion, approximately 1,000 pushups were done to sell papers.

Wardle said the fundraiser is important for ROTC to participate in because it not only serves others, but it teaches and develops leaders within the community.

“Kids Day is an event that serves the community and, as leaders, we want to take a stand and fulfill the important event of raising money for Valley Children’s Hospital while encouraging others to do the same,” Wardle said.

She added, “We believe in deeds, not words. By partaking in Kids Day, we are showing what it means to be a leader and to serve – not just speaking about it.”

Bronson Booth, kinesiology major and past president of Pi Kappa Alpha, said that last year, the first order of business was to camp out at their corners to claim prime selling locations. This year, they did the same.

“We have a bunch of people assigned for different time slots – a night shift, a super early morning shift and a [mid-morning] shift,” Booth said.

To raise more than last year’s total, Booth said they were putting more emphasis on attracting more drivers, marketing themselves by wearing their Greek letters and claiming more corners.

“Last year, some organizations beat us out to some spots, so we’re going to try to go there earlier and camp out. It’s going to be tough, but that’s why we got coffee,” Booth said laughing.

Three of the team’s corners were located at Shaw and Clovis avenues where they began to set up at 10 p.m. the night before the event. By 6 a.m., they gave one of their corners to the Clovis Target.

Booth said their goal this year was to raise more than $3,000.

“Last year was the first time we ever placed on the top three on campus,” Booth said.

The difference between last year and this year’s fundraising efforts, Booth said, is more people in the organization know how fun and exciting Kids Day is and he is hoping that energy attracted more donors.

“There’s a lot more excitement. There’s a lot more involvement,” Booth said.

Preparation began at the beginning of the semester, Booth said. They passed out sign-up sheets with schedules, designated corners and time slots for volunteers to choose from.

Their plan was to use an online group page, assigning designated drivers, delivering newspapers and finding corner leaders.

Booth said Kids Day is important to him because he grew up in the Valley and has participated since elementary school.

“It’s a tradition,” Booth said. “It’s for a good cause.”

As for why it’s important to Pi Kappa Alpha, Booth said, “We want to be known for actually benefiting the community, as well. That is why we take pride in [receiving] ‘Community Service Organization of the Year’ last year on campus.”

Representing last year’s third top fundraising group, Branden Cancino, president of Sigma Phi Epsilon, said the fundraiser is one of the biggest philanthropic activities they participate in. Cancino became president at the beginning of the year and said planning Kids Day has been in the works since then.

“Since we have past ranked consecutively in the top three, we try to beat ourselves [from] the past year,” Cancino said.

When he joined Sigma Phi Epsilon, it was one of the first things he did, Cancino said, and he realised that it is one of the most important things that his fraternity does.

“We try to make it fun every year for the new guys,” Cancino said.

Sig Ep placed in the top fundraising spot consecutively before ROTC took over last year. Cancino said their goal this year was to beat their personal record and raise approximately $6,000.

Monday night, Sig Ep was found on all four corners of Herndon and Willow avenues. Cancino said his favorite part of Kids Day is being in the “late night crew.”

“It’s something you’ll never do again. You don’t camp out on corners for fun,” Cancino said. “Peak hours is also fun, just because everyone has energy. They are tired, but they have energy.”

Cancino describes the process of Kids Day as a “well-oiled machine.”

“We have a guy going around collecting all the money, and then they take it to one guy who drives to [Joyal Administration] to count the money,” Cancino said. “Everyone has their own role and knows what they are supposed to be doing.”

Cancino said Pike sets aside money from house funds to accommodate necessities for the event such as coffee, food and gas.

Cancino said, “It’s going to continue to be one of our top priorities for a very long time.”

The newspapers have been sold and the donation totals have been counted. Totals will be announced early Wednesday, March 8.


Army ROTC at 6 a.m.

Sigma Phi Epsilon at 6 a.m.

Pike at 6 a.m.

Army ROTC at 10 a.m.

Sigma Phi Epsilon at 10 a.m.

Pike at 10 a.m.

Final hours: Army ROTC

Final hours: Sigma Phi Epsilon

Final hours: Pike

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